Letter to President Trump regarding Family Separation

View a PDF of this letter here. 

Recipient: President Donald Trump

Dear President Trump,

We, the undersigned national, state, and local organizations write to urge you to end the systematic and cruel separation of families apprehended at the U.S. border. Increased family separation at the border comes at a time when immigration enforcement has already torn apart families across the country, at places of worship, schools, and workplaces. Mothers and fathers who have lived in the U.S. for decades are being forced to decide whether they should leave their American children behind in the care of others for a secure and brighter future, or take them with them to a country now foreign to them. Children and young people are having to grow up fast as their mothers and fathers are forcibly taken away by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

These tactics are devastating American communities. Most recently, however, this administration’s policies are resulting in another needless, self-made crisis: that of hundreds of parents and children – many of whom are seeking asylum in this country – torn apart thanks to the Justice Department’s and Department of Homeland Security’s recent “zero tolerance” policy, which calls for the prosecution of all who cross our southwest border. This policy traumatizes families, undermines our country’s once honored commitment to ensuring fairness and protection for those fleeing persecution, and only exacerbates the burdens already overwhelming our immigration system. We now know that more than 700 children have been separated from their families between October 2017 and April 2018, and that nearly that many – 638 adults traveling with 658 children – have been torn apart in just two weeks since the new policy took effect in early May. These families came to United States seeking safety and a better life only to be subjected to callous cruelty.

To be clear, those families seeking protection in the United States are not exploiting loopholes in U.S. law. The right to seek asylum here is enshrined in domestic and international law, and does not guarantee any one family protection. Indeed, it has been extensively documented that those seeking protection face enormous obstacles to making a claim or doing so, especially from immigration detention. These challenges are unspeakably exacerbated when combined with the trauma of separation from one’s parent or one’s child. Family separation also comes at an enormous cost to the U.S. taxpayer, who foots the bill for the separate detention of parents and children, the cost of criminal prosecution, and the costs of what are now two or more separate immigration court cases rather than a single case for one family.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has condemned these policies, saying that “highly stressful experiences, like family separation, can cause irreparable harm, disrupting a child’s brain architecture and affecting his or her short- and long-term health. This type of prolonged exposure to serious stress – known as toxic stress – can carry lifelong consequences for children.”

We are appalled that these policies are being implemented at the same time that ICE is indiscriminately targeting undocumented immigrants and doubling down on home and workplace raids. Immigrant parents and caregivers who have lived in U.S. for decades are being forcibly taken away, leaving a trail of countless American children without their mothers and fathers. Together with your administration’s decision to strip over a million people of either Temporary Protected Status or DACA, these actions are forcing countless parents to leave behind their families, their businesses, their communities, and the country they proudly call home.

Tearing apart families does nothing to make us safer or stronger, and separating children from their parents betrays our deeply held American values.

We demand that you end these callous and cruel policies against immigrants and their families immediately.




American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees

American Federation of Teachers

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

Anti-Defamation League

Arizona Coalition to End Sexual & Domestic Violence

Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum

Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC

Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC

Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance

Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence

ATNJ Atlantic County

Autistic Self Advocacy Network

Bend the Arc Jewish Action


Bisexual Resource Center

Brooklyn For Peace

Center for Community Change Action

Center for Law and Social Policy

Center for Popular Democracy

Center for Victims of Torture

Children’s Defense Fund – Texas

Church World Service

Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles

Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues

Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights

Coalition on Human Needs

Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund

Equal Justice Society

Equality California

Fair Immigration Reform Movement

Faith in Action

Faith in Public Life

Family Equality Council

Farmworker Justice

Feminist Majority

First Focus

FL Immigrant Coalition

Futures Without Violence


Hispanic Federation

Human Rights Advocates

Human Rights Campaign

Impact Fund

Indivisible Nation BK

International Association of Women in Radio and TV – USA

International Rescue Committee

Japanese American Citizens League

Jewish Council for Public Affairs

Juvenile Law Center

Latin America Working Group

LatinoJustice PRLDEF

Lawyers for Good Government

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

League of Women Voters of the United States

Make The Road Nevada




Muslim Public Affairs Council


NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum

National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders

National Black Justice Coalition

National Center for Lesbian Rights

National Center for Youth Law

National Council of Churches

National Council of Jewish Women

National Disability Rights Network

National Domestic Workers Alliance/We Belong Together

National Education Association

National Employment Law Project

National Health Law Program

National Immigrant Justice Center

National Immigration Law Center

National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

National LGBTQ Task Force

National Organization for Women

National Partnership for Women & Families

National Resource Center on Domestic Violence

National Urban League

National Women’s Law Center

NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice

North Carolina Justice Center

Oxfam America

PAVES (Polysexual Alliance for Visibility, Education, and Support)

People For the American Way

Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Poverty Elimination and Community Education (PEACE) Foundation and NGO Committee on Migration


South Asian Network

Southeast Asia Resource Action Center

Southern Poverty Law Center

The Arc of the United States

The Episcopal Church

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

UnidosUS (Formerly the National Council of La Raza)

Union for Reform Judaism

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

United Church of Christ, Justice and Local Church Ministries

United We Dream

Voices for Progress

Wallingford Indivisible

Win Without War

Women’s Refugee Commission

Woodhull Freedom Foundation

World Without Genocide at Mitchell Hamline School of Law

YWCA Greater Austin